KDVS entryway

90.3MHz (channel 212)
Call Sign
KDVS "K-Davis" "K-Devious"
Studio: 14 Lower Freeborn Hall, UC Davis Memorial Union
Transmitter: Kerr Hall
Transmitter Power
(530) 752-9902
General Manager E-mail
Staff Member directory

KDVS' 9200 watt antenna on top of Kerr Hall.

KDVS is an FCC-licensed non-commercial educational broadcast station serving the Yolo County, Northern Solano County, and Sacramento County communities. In addition to its FM-broadcast band frequency, it streams over the Internet in several formats. If you missed a program, you can access a year's worth of programming at the archive site listed above. KDVS plays everything from punk to jazz to rare psych/garage-rock to music of Middle Eastern folk traditions and experimental and as-yet-unclassified music of yet-to-be-named-genres; weekday programming also features no less than 2.5 hours of news and public affairs such as political talk shows, Free Speech Radio News, and Pacifica Network's Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. To find out what's playing on KDVS right now, check the complete schedule of shows.

"Freeform radio" is a boundless format wherein variety is a constant; furthermore, freeform radio principles strictly insist that full creative programming control be given to hosts and DJ's. No program director or station brass may interfere with the music choices selected by each DJ. That KDVS's playlists primarily feature obscure, underground, and independent music artists and bands is a result of unified adherence to a mission statement that values the station's role as a true alternative: KDVS exists to provide music and public affairs which listeners cannot get anywhere else in the local community. If mainstream media only exposes one percent of all new music, KDVS's job will be to expose as much of the remaining 99% as possible.

The freedom of the freeform radio format is often used by KDVS DJ's to build bridges within the listening community. Eclectic programs expose music from various (often disparate) cultures and subcultures, blended in a logical manner which shows the listener the links and similarities between these diverse expressions, and thereby adding educational value.

Most radio listeners require a great deal of predictability, but freeform radio has carved out a niche—to satisfy those individuals who demand more variety and prefer to seek out what is new or has been overlooked. But, as you might guess, upon tuning in you either love it or flip it. Occasionally, you are confused and uncertain, but if you are patient and open-minded, it may not be long before something pulls you in, and that something is the essence of KDVS.

KDVS's expansive music library KDVS has the second or third largest vinyl collection in California, rivaled only by a collector in San Francisco and perhaps KZSU at Stanford University. Neither KDVS or KZSU has been successful in counting each and every record and CD they have compiled, so this issue remains a point of contention (albeit a point of friendly contention). Alas, there are no 8-tracks or PlayTapes in either station's music library.

KDVS also publishes a quarterly programming guide called KDViationS, featuring the programming schedule, program descriptions, interviews with musical artists, record and CD reviews, columns, and occasionally entertaining lists and poetry. KDViationS is distributed throughout the Sacramento Valley at record stores and coffeehouses, plus many campus locations. The name comes from a radio engineering term. In FM radio, deviation is how much the modulation causes the carrier frequency to deviate; it determines the transmission bandwidth (75kHz) and thus the channel spacing (200kHz). You're not likely to see naked KDVS people in the program guide very often:

KDVS staff posing nude for the 1986 program guide.

Shockingly, in the fall of 1986, the KDVS staff posed nude for the center photo of the program guide. The news hit the Associated Press wire and the station attracted national coverage. A stamp disclaiming that the opinions expressed in the guide were not necessarily those of the UC Regents was mandated by the administration before distribution. (From the KDVS history page)

2008 feature story in Davis Life Magazine

This UCD program receives ASUCD subsidies.


KDVS Soundsystem aka KDVS Mobile Dj unit is a DJing service for your party, dance, prom or event! Contact publicity@kdvs.org

Public Service Announcements KDVS PSAs are announcements that are played 2 to 3 times an hour on KDVS. If you'd like to promote your upcoming event, club or show, just write up a script for our voice artists at least two weeks before the event. Email psa@kdvs.org for more info.

One of KDVS' many T-Shirt designs, this one comes out of the the late 70's. The turn-table-head is KDVS' mascot. Sponsorships & Underwriting If your business is interested in Underwriting KDVS programming, please contact their Underwriting Director at Underwriting@kdvs.org. It's a great way to promote your business and support freeform, community radio.

Music Review for Airplay The Music Department reviews 100's of CDs and records on a weekly basis. They accept donations of music or submissions from bands. Just send CDs/vinyl/cassettes/CDR's for review addressed to KDVS Music DEPT (Genre). Submissions are not guaranteed to be approved for airplay and may take up to 4 weeks to add to the library. Contact music directors at musicdept@kdvs.org.

Live In-studio Sessions KDVS hosts local and touring bands to play live on the air every Thursday night on a program called Live in Studio A. Bands who want to be considered to play can send demos addressed c/o L.I.S.A or e-mail lisa@kdvs.org.

Davis Radio Theater (a.k.a. KDVS Radio Theater) produces original audio plays at KDVS and airs them on Tuesday nights. An all-volunteer cast, consisting of station personnel, dramatic art fans, Sacramento folk and migrant ne'er-do-wells, perform in a variety of genres. Most plays are recorded in Studio A; occasionally some are performed live on the air. Davis Radio Theater, winner of the Ogle Award, is directed by Les Light.

KDVS Recordings KDVS*R is presumably the only University-sponsored nonprofit record label in the country. Started in Summer 2006, it releases LPs of primarily local bands.

KDVS Sports KDVS is the radio home for UC Davis Football, Women's Basketball, Baseball and Women's Softball. Every Tuesday night from 7-8 pm, KDVS airs Aggie Talk, an hourly sports-talk show focusing on Aggie Athletics, college and professional sports. If interested in getting involved in sports broadcasting, contact us at sports@kdvs.org, Twitter or Facebook.

Joe Frank KDVS is one of a very limited number of radio stations that plays Joe Frank on the air. Joe Frank can be heard on Saturdays at 11pm. It is not known, but quite possible that Francis Ford Coppola heard Joe Frank being played on KDVS while driving to the Napa Valley one late night that caused him to become a fan of Joe Frank.


Rocking the airwaves since February 1, 1967, KDVS 90.3 FM is one of four thriving full-time freeform community radio stations in the United States (others include WFMU in New Jersey, WESU in Connecticut, and WZRD in Chicago), and of those four, KDVS is the most powerful at 9200 watts. Its signal is strong enough to reach from parts of the North SF Bay Area to the crest of the northern Sierra Nevada. When KDVS first started as KCD (880 AM) it was nothing more than a small transmitter in the laundry room of Beckett Hall, which used the dorm's electrical wiring to transmit.

In February of 1997 KDVS was off the air for two weeks as a result of construction dust entering the transmitting equipment during an earthquake retrofit of the MU building. Mark Chang took over the air waves during this time and broadcast live from his house on 90.3 MHz until the equipment was restored. See the February 10, 1997 California Aggie Article Pirate Radio Plunders KDVS' Empty Frequency

KDVS uses a relay antenna on the MU 5th Floor to send its broadcast to its main antenna atop Kerr Hall. Soon, they plan to move their broadcasting to a tower north of town.

General Managers

  • 2014-2015 Ashley Hanson
  • 2013-2014 Cameron Cairns
  • 2012-2013 Renner Burkle
  • 2010-2012 Neil Ruud
  • 2009-2010 Kevin Corrigan
  • 2007-2009 Ben Johnson
  • 2006-2007 Drake Martinet
  • 2004-2006 Steven Valentino
  • 2003-2004 Teresa Kenny
  • 2002-2003 Paul Schramski
  • 2001-2002 Liz Berg
  • 2000-2001 Chris Marland
  • 1997-2000 Justin Kable


DJ Shadow, a former KDVS DJ. Freeform KDVS's legacy reaches much further than its broadcast range; consider two of this city's most famous musical exports, Michael Franti and DJ Shadow. Both grew up listening to KDVS and were exposed to the many genres of music regularly played on the air, and each grew up to become musicians who mixed diverse sets of influences to create unique artistic visions that have become successful in creating diverse legacies. Franti's first band, the Beatnigs, mixed punk rock, industrial music, funk, and Afrobeat influences with messages of African-American political consciousness-raising. A palpable punk and industrial flavor was still evident in his next band, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. Finally, with Spearhead, Franti broke through to mainstream audiences and played a large role in the proliferation of jazz-based hip hop and more consciousness-raising.

Shadow, a former KDVS DJ, combined hip hop with applications of electronic music (even relating to musique concrete) including unprecedented applications of sampling, recontextualizing music from genres such as hardcore punk and psych/acid-rock. The immediate result was a spark in interest of "record digging," wherein hip hop, house, and techno DJ's plundered stacks of used vinyl records looking for the most obscure and overlooked breaks and beats. DJ Shadow's own wide perspective of music became contagious.

Most KDVS devotees agree that the 1991 broadcast "Reaction Radio with Misty & Ginger" was the station's finest programming in its history. Its influence was widespread, launching the career of listener Mr. Disco. Misty and Ginger presided over a raucous 'top 10' format, infused with bizarre phone calls from listeners. Mr. Disco's identity was later revealed to be Davis Senior High student Jesse Skeen.

As one of the first radio stations to broadcast on the internet, KDVS expanded its reputation and influence to far corners of the planet; and despite rules against archiving radio broadcasts, KDVS has followed the lead of WFMU in archiving its programs at its website to allow listeners everywhere to listen more selectively. Through their web presence, KDVS has firmly established itself among an elite handful of radio stations nationally—and even internationally—when it comes to exposing important, challenging, and under-exposed new music as well as revealing forgotten nuggets of the past. Speaking of nuggets of the past, you can see what the KDVS Web site looked like in 1996-1997 from the efforts M. Riots did in pulling it together: KDVS Main Web Archives KDVS made its debut on the Web on February 29th, 1996.

Many KDVS staff also play significant roles in bringing live music to the community through their promoting and organizing efforts. That an underground music scene exists at all in Davis is possibly only because of KDVS. Underground music activity throughout the Sacramento metropolitan area is helped immensely by the efforts of KDVS.

Getting Involved

Anyone can be a DJ if they volunteer. Attend one of the volunteer meetings and you're ready to work at the station. To have your own show, you have to volunteer 50 hours (unless you have a co-host, in which case you split your hours). There are always plenty to do at the station. The most popular job may be censoring new music, which gets you exposed to new, exciting (most times) obscure bands. DJs are required to volunteer at least 40 hours per quarter, in addition to their shows. But even if you are not an on-air personality, there's plenty of behind the scenes work that goes on, including: Website, Programming, Office, Production, Publicity, Music Department. For more information, see the KDVS volunteer page.


KDVS holds a week-long fundraiser during spring quarter of each year. All donations are tax-deductible, and you get sweet gifts for doing it (T-shirts, CD packages, compilations made by DJs, ability to host your own show for one hour, ordering a DJ for a dance party, recording time in the studio). For more info go to KDVS Fundraiser or to The Official Fundraiser Page.

Notable Long Term DJs

  • Gary Saylin - A veteran of KDVS for over 30 years. He is responsible for expanding the children's, reggae and Hawai'ian sections of the station. He is also known for his extensive production work.
  • Punk Roge - Not only plays punk rock every weekend and keeps Joe Frank going on the air after all these years, but also wakes up early every Sunday morning to help the community by keeping Davis Food Not Bombs going since it started in 1994.
  • RickEle - Rumored that "KDVS is the love child of both him [Ele] and Todd Urick" (another notable KDVS veteran)


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2007-06-07 16:03:47   Why is there static on the steaming radio? —CarlosBarahona

  • Because the KDVS feed actually pulls the station from a radio reciever on the third floor of the MU, instead of directly from the board in Lower Freeborn. They will pull directly from the studio within a year, giving nice crisp streams for everyone to hear. —BrentLaabs

2007-09-25 23:53:15   does anyone feel like the whole blimp incident should/could find a place here? —KellyCorcoran

2008-03-13 14:12:16   how do you add a weekly recurring local Davis event to the "KDVS Entertainment Calendar" ? —DjNehad

2008-08-29 01:30:36   "That an underground music scene exists at all in Davis and Sacramento is possibly only because of KDVS."

I can understand this regarding Davis but it seems unlikely that the entire Sacramento underground music scene is entirely in debt to a college radio station that's outside its city limits. Can someone enlighten me? —JakeJames

2008-08-29 07:04:57   Jake, I grew up in North East Sacramento and I listened to KDVS to see what was up. No other radio station with as broad a range as KDVS will play an up and coming band in the area. Sure, a few of the Intercom stations have local music shows but a band has to be somewhat established to get on there. At KDVS the DJs play whatever they think is good - regardless if its only been heard by the very people that made the music before it hits the frequencies of KDVS. So, with our Entertainment Calendar, as well as promotion of shows, and willingness to play Sacramento bands, KDVS is an integral part of the local music scene. But even I, born and bred in Sacramento, and a KDVS listener for nearly 20 years, won't say that the Sacramento underground scene exists only because of KDVS. —RobRoy

2008-10-16 13:54:16   Jake, the inaccurate reference to dj shadow nothwithstanding (he was "around" but never had his own show), kdvs (owing much to shadow and the solesides crew) has been a bastion of underground hip hop in the lower sacramento valley for almost two decades. The station's unofficial dedication to keeping wed 10-midnight as The de facto hip hop timeslot for over 15 years (!) on an otherwise freeform programming schedule is a testament not just to station history, but the widely known importance in driving and influencing the region's true hip hop scene. —toyon

2009-03-26 13:09:46   Jake, I updated the passage about KDVS being "solely responsible" for an underground music scene in Sacramento. But I should stress that were we not here and hearable in much of its metro area, Sacramento would certainly be a less lively city. KDVS Presents brings events to venues in Sacramento several times per month. KDVS airplay helps promote local bands throughout the area, as well as touring bands coming to the region which otherwise might not have a chance to develop an audience. This effort has been continuous since 1977 when KDVS went from 10 watts to 5000 watts, finally reaching beyond Davis city limits. I've often said that without KDVS, Sacto and Davis would be a lot more like Fresno and Turlock in terms of DIY music activity. —RickEle

2009-09-30 18:01:23   KDVS is subsidized by the ASUCD: http://daviswiki.org/ASUCD_Budget/2008-2009

At least $30,000 a year since 2005. Just curious, do a lot of students tune in? —hankim

2009-11-19 00:20:12   KDVS is advertised as "freeform" radio, but I recently heard from some DJ trainees that you are only allowed to play very obscure songs and someone even got in trouble because a song was not "obscure enough." How can KDVS be "freeform" if you only are allowed to play obscure songs? Should every undergraduate student have to pay so that a small group of people can play what some might not call music over the airwaves? If KDVS was break-even or relied solely on fundraisers, I can understand keeping it going, but otherwise, I do not think this is "education" worth paying for. —hankim

"2009-11-18 08:36:00"   Ok, from what I've heard from the staff, it's not that you're only limited to really "obscure" stuff only twenty people in Alaska have heard off, but licensing restrictions mean that KDVS can't exactly play the latest top 10 hits too often. If you're the DJ, you have the right to choose what you want to air - you have growing shelves upon shelves of music and some of these things aren't the most "obscure" bands. HarrisonM

  • Any truth to the story about the DJ who got in trouble because a song was not obscure enough? —hankim
  • No, the basic point is KDVS is licensed by the FCC at its frequency as an educational station and the University of California sponsors KDVS because of its educational value. Playing the latest chart-topper on your show doesn't really have any educational value for the listener, because those kinds of songs are repeated endlessly on commercial radio. And it doesn't provide any educational value to the DJ either, as you're just playing what's been drilled into your head rather than doing research in the library and discovering music you've never heard before. KDVS is considered freeform radio because its DJs have extraordinary freedom in choosing what to air, especially compared to commercial radio. Commercial radio DJs aren't playing the top 40 because they like the songs — they're doing it because they have to; it's their job. So playing that kind of music on KDVS is discouraged, but the idea that someone got in trouble for playing one song that was not "obscure enough" sounds pretty unlikely to me. —jsogul
    • I also have trouble with seeing how people finding obscure songs is education. It almost sounds like learning to be a hipster douche-bag. Seems more of a hobby than real education. —hankim
    • First an explanation of the freeform nature of KDVS. Programming directors will NEVER tell a dj that they have to play a certain song, or pick from a refined box of songs, or conform to any border genre rules (other stations force djs to play only a single genre in their show or force them to play multiple, we do neither allowing a show to swing from bluegrass to metal in the space of an hour or to focus solely on pre-war blues). We do however have a mandate to be educational and we take that seriously. So in response to the trainee getting in trouble, yes they probably did get a talking to if they played something overly popular- provided that it was without educational context. Education can take many forms. In one sense, yes it is playing "obscure" music such that the educational value is getting a chance to hear the song at all. In another it is creating connections between songs that demonstrate some larger theme. For example, I once did a show discussing the use of folk tales and mythology in modern music and included a Radiohead song that was influenced by and referenced the gloaming or witching hour of British legends. I never received a complaint. Compare this to playing that same song with a group of randomly picked songs just because I liked how it sounded and I hope you can see a difference in value, even if looking back I feel that show was kinda cheesy. Given your emphasis on worth I would think you would appreciate the staff at KDVS quality checking the shows on air.

      Second your idea of obscure music creating hipster-douche bags seems to show a serious ignorance of what music can be outside the top 40 bubble. This includes jazz, classical, international, and experimental artists that fill academic roles like ethno-musicology and composition, while simultaneously providing an outlet for worthwhile cultural works ignored by mainstream radio (seriously folks there is more to Latin music than Reggaeton) Sure there are shows that swing towards the more Pitchfork friendly crowd but this in no way dominates our schedule. My suggestion to you, and to everyone else who hasn't yet, is to listen at different parts of the day and week or stream somewhere in our past week of shows. If you keep and open mind I am sure you will find something that excites and educates you—craigfergus

      • You make it sound like my iPod is full of top 40 songs. It actually is full of ska (Streetlight Manifesto, Five Iron Frenzy, Aquabats), show tunes (Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia), "indie" (Decemberists, Metric), hip hop (Extended Famm, Tonedeff), and as well a variety of instrumentals (String Quartet Tribute, Canadian Brass). Alright, the hipster-douche-bag comment was unnecessary and maybe even mean, but how do you piss off an indie kid? By enjoying music. Even you have to admit that obscure music attracts hipster douche-bags just as it might attract those who actually enjoy the music. Anyway, the story I heard from the DJ trainees included the fact that the DJ thought that the song was relatively unknown because the DJ him/her self never heard of the artist before, so it probably was not something overly popular if the story is true. The main point of my comment is that finding obscure songs is not the type of education that every undergraduate student should be paying for, especially since it seems more like a hobby. Expanding one's musical tastes is nice, but not everyone should have to pay for it. —hankim
    • Concerning the educational value of researching music, as Louis Armstrong once said, when asked what jazz is: "Man, if you gotta ask, you'll never know." —BrianOrr

2010-06-07 08:39:45   Circa 2010 mid-May, the station went off the air. Supposedly the transmitter needed some rare "highly specialized part". Now in June, they are still off the air and the problem is rumored to be "in the antenna". Others say the power was cut/antenna removed to prevent talk about impending student fee raises this summer. Nobody even seems to know and they are now (2010-06-07) asking for outside assistance. Can they find the unplugged cord? —SteveDavison

  • Just in case nobody tried tuning in- KDVS is back on the air as of a long time ago. Thanks for your patience